CEPT Workshop on Spectrum for Drones / UAS
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology has gone through massive development in recent years, and the market for civil UAS shows exponential growth, similar to all other significant new technologies. There are a number of challenges in fully realising the potential for growth that UAS bring with them. One of these challenges is meeting the spectrum requirements for UAS. Frequencies are used for command and control and identification as well as for payload transmissions (e.g. on-board cameras sending information to the ground).
The focus of the workshop is on UAS that fly in circumstances where they do not need communications with air traffic control (ATC).
Communication solutions for drones-to-drones, drones-to-infrastructure, communication transmitters distributing positioning information in order to avoid collisions, geo-fencing, e-identification, drones traffic management are aspects for which presentations will explain possible solutions and the relation to spectrum use.
See also ECC Report 268 (approved in February 2018) for background information. There is also an explanatory document on non-professional UAS use under general authorisations.
The aim of the workshop has been to understand better the spectrum needs of existing and future Drones/ UAS applications. The outcome of the workshop will be further considered within the relevant CEPT/ECC groups.
Some examples how Drones/UAS can use frequencies:
- Non-professional UAS use is considered to make use of frequency opportunities under general authorisations (i.e. without any individual rights). The most common use is found in the 2400-2483.5 MHz (ERC/REC 70-03, Annexes 1 and 3) and 5725-5875 MHz bands (non-specific use according to ERC/REC 70-03 Annex 1) under the current regulatory conditions set out in ERC/REC 70-03. Other usage opportunities exist in the 433 MHz and 863-870 MHz ranges. These usage opportunities are based on harmonised frequency use without restrictions (RE Directive Class 1 equipment) and use is only bound to the technical and operational conditions provided in the ERC/REC 70-03 and the EC Decision for SRD (2006/771/EC as amended). There are also other frequency opportunities under general authorisation scheme such as for non-specific SRD or specific ones, e.g. ERC/REC 70-03 Annex 8 for model control in the 27 MHz, 35 MHz and 40 MHz frequency ranges.
- However, using unlicensed bands shared by various types of applications would not be appropriate for some professional UAS due to risk of interference, and may not meet the expectations of professional UAS service providers (unsecure investments, emission limits do not support the intended operating range). Harmonisation of the spectrum use would foster a common market for UAS products and may be helpful for some professional UAS usage scenarios to avoid cross-border issues.
- Another possibility for professional UAS applications is to use existing mobile MFCN networks to provide connectivity to UAS by usual (unmodified) mobile networks with LTE technology provided that the command and control link(s), where appropriate, meet the relevant aviation safety requirements prevalent in the country of concern. This can be realised either by an external LTE device attached to UAS or in future by implementing SIM-cards installed within UAS.
The workshop programme is available here.
The biographies of the speakers are available here.
The presentations, photos and summary of the workshop are available here.